Review for Taliesin

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead

Genre – Fantasy, Science fiction, Historical fiction

Series – First book in The Pendragon Cycle

Rating – PG-13 for mild violence & innuendo, peril

Synopsis –

This is the tale of Merlin’s parents. First we meet Charis a daughter of one of the nine kings of Atlantis. Avallach, her father, is a wise and noble king, yet he faces a dilemma with one of the neighboring kings. This king issues a threat to Avallach. Charis is ignorant of the politics going on behind her father’s doors, and she is surprised when this enemy takes away something very important to her. Charis tries to overcome her grieve by becoming a bull dancer. Her troubles still follow her. Until she is faced with a choice: does she leave or stay? Meanwhile in other kingdom we find another king grooming his son, Elphin, to eventually take over. The clan member disagree as Elphin seems to walk into trouble wherever he goes. Until one day Elphin discovers an abandoned baby who brings joy to everyone around him. The baby is called Taliesin.

My Thoughts –

To start I wanted to say I have been so busy lately it has been a bit hard to post as much as I wanted to. I am hoping to do more soon.

And now back to the book πŸ™‚ I really enjoyed this one. While it took me awhile to get through it, (not the books fault) I loved the way the author engages the reader. He writes in a way that draws you in and brings this story to life. I know I have talked a lot about the Arthurian legend, but this one is one of the best versions I have read. Its much better then the Once and Future king which was a bit disjointed. This flowed much smoother. Review for that book here: http://www.pagestoremember.com/2020/06/19/review-for-the-once-and-future-king/

I have to mention the characters who were amazing!! Now in the first section, I cannot say that I liked Charis. She was pretty childish and naive, but she changes and grows up a bit. By the second section, I liked her a lot better! However, the two characters who I loved were Elphin and Taliesin. Elphin starts out an outcast to become a great leader among his people. I totally connected with this character. Taliesin was unique; he grows up too, but even when he is little, he has wisdom beyond his years. There was a side character who I also thought added to the story named Dyfed. He is one of the few believers in the book and brings some much needed changes.

I do want to mention that many of the characters follow a variety of gods/goddesses. The Britons follow the druids with their host of gods while the Atlanteans follow a multitude with Bel being the foremost god. The author depicts what they believe, but not in way that supports it. He shows how these false gods will get you nowhere. Later on he introduces Christians who spread the Gospel. We see how the one true God can bring light to the darkness and peace to someone who is distressed.

For the most part the plot had a pace to it and the climax did not feel rushed. I do have to say that I had an inkling to how it would end, but the author did it in a colorful and fresh way. The way Lawhead writes is lyrical almost. I always wanted to have the next chapter be continue with the same person’s story instead of jumping to the other person. However, I got used to it and just allowed myself to sit back and see where it led.

Language – None, except for one use of the word for donkey (used in that context not as expletive)

Violence – There was a minor amount. A few people are killed with maybe a handful of mentions related to blood. Mostly people who are wounded. A king is stabbed and dies. Reference to wars and battles with Irish/Pict. For the most part all battles are off the page. So we really only see the effects of the battles. Many people die when Atlantis sinks. A boat runs over small fishing boats which kills many people. A character dies from an arrow. A baby is born blue and almost dies, but it brought to life. Also, a women goes into early labor; she bleeds almost passes out. Later on once she has the baby mentions of blood on sheets. Most of this not detailed, just told that it happened in a very matter of fact way.

Innuendo – We have several couples get married. Two references to consummating a marriage. Several kisses, all after the couples are married. A married couple falls asleep together. Also, mentions of a mother nursing her baby or being placed on her breast to feed. (Again just Lawhead mentions it happened, but leaves it at that).

Conclusion –

I truly loved this book!! It has a defined plot line unlike King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I have read many of Lawhead’s other books and knew I enjoyed his writing style, and was not disappointed. There were so many beautiful sections! Also, we get to see a character’s redemption which was wonderful as we see how utterly lost this character is. I love it when author pull off a convicting and believable conversion. So many times it seems to just be out of the blue. Anyway, I highly recommend this book!! Especially if you enjoy a good fantasy or are looking to step foot in the Arthurian legend. I would probably say teen on up as I can see a middle schooler getting pretty bored. πŸ˜‰

Review for Between Burning Worlds

Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Genre – Science Fiction, Les Miserables retelling

Series – Book 2 in the System Divine series

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and language

Synopsis –

It has been several weeks since we last saw Marcellus, Chatine, and Alouette. Things have gone from bad to worse for Chatine. She protected the mysterious group called the Vanguarde from General Bonnefacon, and because of that, she is sent to the remote prison, Bastille. She feels that there is no escaping from Bastille as it is an impenetrable place. Meanwhile Marcellus has joined the Vanguarde and is endeavoring to stop his grandfather from unleashing a new weapon upon the citizens of Laterre. Yet, General Bonnefacon figures out what Marcellus is up to and makes an attempt on Marcellus’s life. On the other side of the planet, Alouette is running away from her past. She has been lied to about her past; so she seeks answers that she so desperately needs. Will these three rebels find what they seek before a new enemy appears?

My Thoughts –

This book stood out compared to Sky without Stars as it felt more like it own story as opposed to a new version of Les Miserables. While Sky without Stars does a great job of setting the stage, Between Burning Worlds takes things a step farther. Honestly, it didn’t feel like the story of Les Miserables at all. There were maybe a few scenes that reminded me a bit like Les Miserables. Overall though I could just sit back and take it as new story which I loved.

There were so many good parts to this book. You are thrown into the plot at a brisk pace that keeps up through the majority of the book. There really weren’t any dull parts. Pacing was well done by the authors. The plot was also pretty intricate with lots of moving parts. Several twists occurred that surprised me as I had thought that I had it figured out. I didn’t. πŸ˜‰

I enjoyed the characters quite a bit; they have grown up and changed since we last saw them. Marcellus is still my favorite character. He is likeable for a spoiled rich boy, but also fairly humble. He cares about his friends and bears their burdens on his own back. I still liked Alouette, but not as much as I did in the first book. Some of the secrets that she has uncovered have shaken her beliefs. It takes a while before she can recover. I like her quiet spirit, and how all the knowledge she has learned from the refuge has a purpose. I have to say that I like her and Marcellus together. Although it seems that the authors might do something different. I have mixed feelings about Chatine. I liked her developmental arc, but she still wasn’t my favorite.

I also appreciated Marcellus’s compassion for others including his evil grandfather as Marcellus hates violence and killing. There was one scene where I kept expecting Jolras to burst into singing “ABC Cafe”. πŸ™‚

Language – Maybe 7 uses of mild swearing. Also, the authors made up some of their own expletives that our characters say including: fric and sols. Used infrequently throughout the book.

Violence – There is quite a bit of violence in this one. I kinda expected it as it is a retelling of a revolution. Lots of shooting with pulse like guns affecting your nerves that wears off in a couple hours. A character gets shot with bullets and bleeds. Mentions of fixing a machine that is similar to a guillotine expect with a lazer instead of blade. A character dies from this machine. There is another group called Red Scar that brands people with a lazer. The new weapon consists of manipulating people to hurt/kill other people. Happens several times and many people die because of it.

Innuendo – Less then the first book. You can kinda see that a couple characters like each other. But that is about it.

Also, there was a mention of 2 guys as a couple. Mention that they kissed. I was kinda upset about this as they were such minor characters. You could tell the authors did it to make a statement. I don’t agree with that particular lifestyle as the Bible speaks out against that particular behavior. Kinda sad they added it in there, but thankfully only maybe a sentence or two where it’s mentioned.

Other – Several mentions of blood bordals which is where a women is paid to have nutrients in the blood extracted from her. These nutrients end up going into the First Estaters facial creams. A character unwillingly has this happen to her.

Conclusion –

Despite the issues mentioned, I got swept up in the story. Some characters did grow on me, and the authors did a great describing this world. Made it feel like you were there with the characters. I truly liked Marcellus’s character; he had the perfect balance between being flawed, yet still making a difference. Not to say that there weren’t issues that bugged me, but overall I enjoyed it. I love it when an author is able to describe things in such a way that you can visualize it in your head. These authors accomplish this. Age range probably older teens to young adult as book is over 600 pages plus content issues.

How are your summers going? Any exciting books being read? Looking forward to hearing from you all!!

Anna

Review for The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King by T. H. White

Genre – Fantasy, Romance, Classic

Stand-alone novel

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and mild innuendo

Synopsis –

The story begins with a boy named Arthur or Wart as that is the nickname they gave him. Wart lives with Sir Ector and his his son Kay as no one knows who Wart’s parents were. When Wart’s tutor quits quite unexpectedly, he goes on a quest to find a new one. He encounters Merlyn, a wise wizard, in the forest and brings him back to the castle. Merlyn instructs both Kay and Arthur for many years. As part of Wart’s instruction, Merlyn transforms him into various animals in order to teach him valuable lessons. Many years pass before one day Wart pulls a sword out of a stone to give to Kay. This leads to his eventually becoming king. Once Arthur becomes king, he has many adventures in trying to bring unity to England. He brings together a group of knights to reform England. Will Arthur and his band of knights be able to bring unity before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

First off, The Once and Future King is composed of four separate books. They all kinda go together, but they each tell a separate section of Arthur’s life. For some reason it took me quite a while to read this. Not sure exactly why??! Just glad I finally finished!! Overall, it gave an interesting look at King Arthur that is different from the previous books I had read. This was more personal. We could hear what went on his head and his conversations with those around him. Unlike King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, which focused more on telling a legend. I enjoyed this book more!

The characterization in this was great! You could see these characters and feel for them. They felt more human compared to some other tellings which make them out to be legends. I actually liked Lancelot’s character, which was weird for me because in the past I kinda hated how arrogant he was. White does a great job of making this flawed hero conflicted and torn about some his past decisions. Arthur also has some great development that occurs throughout the book. We spent the most time with Arthur and see him transform from boy to wizened king. The one character that was a thorn in my side was Guenever. Her character just didn’t sit well with me. Something about how she is portrayed, but I can’t put my finger on it. The four Orkney brothers while childish at times, were fine, it was just Guenever that didn’t belong.

The plot was slower as it kinda built up the characters from the ground up. We get introduced to many of them while they were still young. So there were a few sections that truly dragged on. One especially slow section was Wart being an ant!! It had no connection to the actual plot! Also, a few political sections that felt like they went on forever!

White has quite the sense of humor. Especially in the first two books he would break the third person narrative and jump to first person. He would then try to describe something using modern terms. I kinda liked this. There was one particularly humorous scene with the Questing Beast and King Pellinore where I truly laughed out loud! πŸ˜‰

I would not call this a Christian book, despite the fact that there are many Christian themes and several characters are considered Christians. The author makes a couple references to evolution and some hints that God might not exist. You can tell the author has a different view then some of the characters. It isn’t shoved in your face though, and oddly enough he does quote from the Bible.

Language – There is some mild language throughout the book. Mostly the same two words used over and over.

Violence – Honestly, there wasn’t much despite this being a book about knights. Yes, there a few battles or tournaments where knights get injured, but not described. Knights knock each other out with their sword. Maybe a mention or two of blood on the grass. There are a couple jousts to the death. Again not much description just a blurb that they died. There is a scene where a women is tied to a stake to be burnt to death for infidelity (She gets rescued).

Innuendo – First, I’ll mention that there are a couple times where the author describes a knight as being naked and then later mentions him having clothes on. So I believe it means that they didn’t have armor not that they were truly naked. Second, is Lancelot’s and Guenever’s relationship. In this story, Arthur is warned beforehand that he should watch out. He dismisses the warning and pays for it. Lancelot hates Guenever until an event occurs where he hurts Guenever’s feelings. This is what sparks him to fall in love with her. Lancelot’s uncle calls him out on it, but Lancelot doesn’t listen. They kiss several times and many characters try to tell the King that Lancelot is sleeping with his wife. Lancelot tries to end it on multiple occasions. Lastly, there are a couple mentions of other character’s infidelity, just brief mentions.

Conclusion –

This gives a good look at Arthur and how he truly wanted to change England for the better. We get to see what makes these classic character tick. There is also a brief history lesson thrown in which I enjoyed. If you want a book that focuses on a smaller cast of Arthurian characters, this is a good choice. While it has some content issues, overall a well done fantasy!

Cannot wait to hear what you all are reading!! Have you read any King Arthur stories? Any favorite retellings?

Review for The Tale of Briar Bank

The Tale of Briar Bank by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre – Historical fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

Series – 5th book in The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Rating – PG – Peril and mild violence

Synopsis –

Beatrix Potter has returned to her house at Hill Top farm. She is looking forward to spending some time in the country. Yet, when she arrives, the town is in an uproar. Mr. Wickstead has met an untimely death by the form of a tree. The villagers believe it is a curse, while Constable Braithwaite is not so sure. He has noticed some unusual marking on the tree. One of the witnesses to the event is a badger named Bailey, but of course he has no way of telling the humans what exactly he saw. Will Miss Potter be able to get to the bottom of this mystery before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

I have so enjoyed this series!! And this book is one of the better ones. The previous book, The Tale of Hawthorn House, was bit odd and disjointed. The Tale of Briar Bank flowed much better and the animals were much more likeable. There was Norse theme throughout which I liked. I have always enjoyed Norse history/mythology. One of the animals we are introduced to is a dragon named Thorvaald. He was so sweet and odd. It was hard not to like him.

Another new element is Miss Potter and Mr. Heelis’s blossoming friendship. Many years before Miss Potter’s fiance had died quiet suddenly and ever since she has been grieving her loss. So it was wonderful to see her start to move on after four books. πŸ™‚

The villagers are so quirky and odd. You have the usual gossip that spreads like wildfire and villagers falsely believing characters are a couple. They complement their town so well. The author does a wonderful job bringing this English countryside to life. You can picture the lakes and hills in your head. It reminds me a bit of the characters in the BBC show Doc Marin.

The author also breaks the third person wall and speaks right to the reader. She does this frequently throughout the book which I enjoyed. It made it seem like we were co-conspirators invading the town. πŸ˜‰ Albert would tell the reader that, “So you and I shall not stand idly by and wait whilst Will examines the photographs and eats his lunch. Instead we shall take ourselves up to The Brockery. . .” (Albert, p. 144). I think this is a great way to connect to readers, especially when done the right way.

Albert, Susan Wittig. The Tale of Briar Bank. Berkley Publishing Group, New York. 2008.

Language – None

Violence – A character is killed by the top of a tree. A dragon tries to hurt a badger by its fire. Badger gets singed arm.

Innuendo – The villagers believe that 2 characters are a couple and possibly engaged. (all false). Two different characters begin to develop a romantic relationship. Very mild.

Conclusion –

This was a lovely addition to the series. It was delightful to be able to visit the small town of Near Sawrey again. I highly recommend this series as it is something the whole family could enjoy. The author does a great job of keeping them pretty clean which is wonderful. Plus you get to learn some of the history surrounding Beatrix Potter.

Have you read any book in this series? What are you currently reading? Cannot wait to hear from you all!!

Review for War of Swords

War of Swords by D. Barkley Briggs

Genre – Christian fiction, fantasy, YA

Series – 5th & final book in the Legends of Karac Tor

Rating – PG for violence and scary creatures

Synopsis –

The four Barlow brothers have been in Karac Tor for 2 years now. They have all grown up so much since following the ravens through the tunnel. They are about to enter into a battle not only to fight for their lives, but for the whole realm. Kr’Nunos is assembling an army of twisted and evil creatures to ransack and take over the land. As the Barlow’s fight for their lives, they are about to confront their greatest fear – losing someone they love. Will these brothers be able to stand firm against the incoming onslaught?

My Thoughts –

Yea!! I finally finished this series!! It took me a while to finish this. I think I started this series back in the summer of last year. Now that the library is somewhat open, I can now finally get books!! Anyway, this was an interesting conclusion to this series.

Honestly, I did not remember many of the characters as it has been awhile since I read the previous books. So I was a little lost. I spent a good chunk of the book trying to remember who everyone was. Weirdly enough, the author did not summarize what had happened previously. There were a couple characters I still don’t remember how they met the main characters. Also, I believe there is a gap between this book and previous one as now it has been 2-3 years since the first book. The author did provide a glossary of names at the back of the book which helped a lot.

One thing I really like about this series is that it incorporates the Arthurian legend. We have Arthur, and a mention of Tal Yssen (basically Merlin). I have kinda been on a Arthurian legend binge what with watching Merlin and recently reading a couple different stories. So I enjoyed Arthur being a key person in this story.

Of the brothers, I really only connected with Hadyn and Ewan Barlow. I think part of the reason that I didn’t like Gabe or Garret was they just felt soo young. There were a couple sections where the writing felt like it was aimed at middle-schoolers. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it just felt childish at times. Maybe I am just getting used to reading high fantasy. I don’t know.

The allegory was strong in this one. Pun intended. πŸ˜‰ Aion (basically a Jesus character) is the high prince of Isgurd (heaven). His followers have to trust him despite Aion being across the sea. Kr’Nunos was a Satan like character. He had corrupted certain people groups who before the song had turned their backs on Aion. Bits of it reminded me of the last book in the Left Behind series. As it is the final battle.

Language – None

Violence – As there are battles throughout the book, there are some descriptions of the fights. Most of these descriptions are well kept within a PG rating though. Many characters get wounded/die. A couple mentions of the ground being covered with blood. There is a sea battle where ships get destroyed by a hurricane/ bombs. Characters shoot arrows/get shot by arrows. Several descriptions of the evil creatures called Goths and Ravers and their powers.

Innuendo – Very little, a few kisses between a few couples. One couple gets married.

Conclusion –

This was a great conclusion to this series. It feels so good to have finished this series. There were some great themes like loyalty, faith, and sacrifice. Most of the characters stood for what was right despite difficult situations. I would have no problem giving this to a middle-schooler or teen. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to read, this one would be a great choice.

Have you heard of this series? Which is your favorite book? How is your May going?

Review for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Middle-grade, Christian fiction, fantasy

Series – 3rd in The Chronicles of Narnia series

Rating – PG for fantasy violence and mild language

Synopsis –

Edmund and Lucy are sent to stay with their aunt and uncle for the summer. They are both dreading it as their cousin Eustace is a brat. Surprisingly, during their stay there, they are transported to Narnia. Edmund and Lucy are rejoiced to meet up with King Caspian, who they met on their previous trip to Narnia. Caspian is out searching for the 7 lost lords who were banished in Miraz’s reign. Will the Pevensie’s be able to help Caspian find the missing lords?

My thoughts –

This is one of my favorite books in this series. Its filled with adventure, fantastical creatures, and redemption. In my opinion this book has faster pace compared to the previous two books. It is packed with a lot of adventures in a short book. Prince Caspian, on the other hand, is focused more on developing the characters.

There is a myriad of different characters. More so then in Prince Caspian. I remember when my mom read this years ago, loving the Dufflepuds. I still thought the Dufflepuds were hilarious during this reread!! I also remember loving Eustace’s character arc. Eustace is one of my favorite characters. For some reason I really like him as a character more so then the Pevensies. Plus there are dragons!! Who doesn’t love dragons!!

The plot is quite a bit different from the movie. I do like the movie, but is cuts some of the best scenes and messes with the timeline of events. Yet, I think they cast Eustace perfectly. Will Poulter nailed the complaining, whining, and selfish cousin. The way the movie pulled off his development was great. Especially the end! πŸ˜‰

I loved how Eustace’s redemption showed that we cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we try. He needed Aslan to do the hard work of cleansing him. Very reminiscent of a believer accepting Christ and the transformation that follows. Despite being cleansed by Aslan, Eustace would still sometimes revert back to his old self. This is just like a Christian’s walk. We are eventually going to mess up. We are not perfect. Anyway, I just thought this was a good reminder.

Violence –

Very little, a slave trader captures some characters and endeavors to sell them. (He treats them well). There are a couple sword fights, no real injuries. A character gets sea sick. 3 characters are put to sleep after trying hurt one another. A sea monster attacks the ship. One character falls overboard.

Language – Roughly 5 uses of mild language. Same word used.

Innuendo – None, a mention of a character getting married.

Conclusion –

It has been so much fun to go back and reread these books!! It makes me want to go back and re-watch the movies. I love the characters in this book and the whole adventure on the high seas feel to it. Adventures are funny things. You never know where it will take you or where you will end up. I highly recommend The Chronicles of Narnia to anyone!

Have you read these books? If so, which one is your favorite? Do you like Eustace?

Anna

Art contest

So a shout out to Middle Earth Musician who is hosting an art contest this week. http://musicmysterymiddlearthandmitochondria.blogspot.com/ My sisters has been doing a lot of artwork throughout this quarantine. I am going to call them F and B for personal reasons. I figured I would post some of their work, since I am not an artist by any means. Not sure if it counts for the competition, but I think they are pretty cool. Note – I asked permission before posting their artwork. πŸ™‚

#1 Jack and Katherine from Newsies by F.

She drew this the past week. After we had recently rewatched Newsies for a 3rd time. πŸ˜‰ I thought that it had a neat perspective as drawn from behind.

#2 Princess Leia from Star Wars by F.

Not sure when she drew this one, but I believe it was within the past month. She is really into Star Wars and has done many with Rey and Kylo, but I really liked how this one was looked.

#3 Marvel’s Civil War characters by B.

This was done by one of other sisters. I believe she did this back when Civil War came out. It was our first Marvel movie that we saw in theaters.

Have you been doing any artwork? If so what did you draw?

6 Movies and Shows I’ve watched recently

As I am still reading Atlas Shrugged (such a long book), I figured I would do a post about some movies/shows that I have been watching. I’ll start out with some family-friendly options, then move on to some more adult. I have done one of these posts before back in 2019. Link here – http://www.pagestoremember.com/2019/07/21/my-current-top-5-tv-shows/

1 Onward

Genre – Fantasy/family

Rating – PG

Synopsis- In a time when magic has all but disappeared, there lives 2 elf brothers Ian and Barley. Ian is a quiet and reserved high schooler who just wants to fit in, while his brother, Barley, is a fun-loving geek. They embark on a quest to bring back their dad for a day.

My Thoughts –

This was such a cute movie!! There were several interesting themes throughout. First, family! Both of the parents are shown in a great light, very supportive of their children. In a lot of movies, parents are shown to be stupid or not able to understand what their children are going through. So I appreciated having parents who actually care. Second theme, becoming who you are meant to be. Both Ian and Barley are teenagers and trying to figure out how they fit into the world. I am not going to say much more as I don’t want to spoil it.

Content – Overall this movie is pretty clean. Definitely one for a family movie night. There is some mild cartoon violence and a bit of name calling, but surprisingly not a lot of potty humor. Also a bit sad as talking about how to deal with someone who has passed. Side note- there is some use of magic and using a spell.

Moving on to number 2.

#2 Newsies

Genre – Musical, Historical

Rating – PG – Mild Language

Synopsis –

Jack Kelly is the leader of the Newsies who make a living by selling papers. When Pulitzer decides to raise the price of the papers, the Newsies go on strike. With the help of Davey and Katherine, they get an article in the papers. Will that be enough to end the strike?

My Thoughts –

So a couple years ago I saw the original 1992 Newsies movie and loved it. Later on I found out there was a Broadway version available. Last fall I finally watched it, and it was AMAZING!! A really well done musical! The new numbers the added really helped, and I liked how the gave Jack a bit more back story.

The characters are fantastic and it is based on a true story. The first time I saw it, I didn’t care for Katherine, but now that I have re-watched it a several times, she has grown on me. Jeremy Jordan aka. Jack Kelly can really sing. This would also make for great family movie night!!

Content – Not much there. Jack and Davey use some mild language a couple times. There are a couple fights, but its all choreographed and more cheesy. Characters kiss a few times. A mention of girls not wearing pants (they were in a custom with tights).

3 White Collar

Genre – Crime/Drama/Comedy

Rating – PG – for violence and language

Synopsis –

Neal Caffery is a conman and a good one at that. He also is a thief who steals/forges artwork. In a deal to reduce his jail time, Neal works for an FBI agent, Peter Burke, to solve cases and catch other criminals. Neal might just make a few friends along the way.

My Thoughts –

This is a clever and fresh show! It has a fast-moving pace, but it also gives you a look into the white collar crime division. It looks at the possibility of can you reform a conman/thief. I gotta say that this is one of the few shows that highlights a positive marriage. Peter Burke and his wife are shown in a great light. They talk about what is going on in each other’s lives and truly care for one another.

For me I really wanted Neal to come clean and be truly reformed, but it is also really neat to see how he pulls off heists. I’m giving a shout out to Mozzie who is one of the best characters on the show. He provides some much needed comedic relieve. πŸ™‚ Also as a side note I have only seen up through season 4. I am hoping to finish this eventually.

Content – For a show about the FBI, there is not much violence. Yes, there are threats and kidnapping, but its kept pretty tame. From what I remember there is some language, but again not a ton. There are a few episodes where they try to spice it up and give Neal a girlfriend. So a couple scenes that you can fast forward through. I think there might have been one episode we skipped entirely. Note- in season 2 or 3 we find out that a character is a lesbian. I think her partner is only shown in 2-3 episodes, but just a heads up. I don’t agree with how this character lives, but it is only a minor side-line. Overall a fairly clean show, probably more for teens on up.

#4 Merlin

Genre – Fantasy, Adventure, Drama

Rating- PG – Peril, violence, scary creatures Also on amazon it says its TV14, I am not exactly sure why. I think most of the series is within the realm of PG.

Synopsis –

The story takes places before Arthur is king and before Merlin is the famous wizard. King Uther Pendragon has outlawed the use of magic to protect his kingdom. Merlin comes to Camelot in order to hide. He becomes an assistant to Gaius, a doctor. Slowly, it is revealed that Merlin has magical powers. Gaius takes him under his wing and trains him to use these powers for good. Meanwhile, Prince Arthur is a stuck up brat who is training for when he becomes king. Eventually, it is revealed that Merlin and Arthur are connected they impacted each other’s destiny. Will these two be able to come together and fight for what is right?

My Thoughts –

I have always loved the Arthurian legend, and I have a soft spot for fantasy. This brings together the best of both worlds. I just found this series back in March. So I have only made it through the first 2 seasons. Now, it definitely gives the tales a new perspective. As most of the stories are about Arthur when he is king. So don’t except it to follow the books. πŸ˜‰

I love Merlin and Arthur’s relationship. It reminds me of the relationship in Sherlock between Holmes and Watson. They have a fun banter back and forth with many witty remarks. Also Gaius has a lot of wisdom and is a father figure to Merlin. Uther I go back and forth on. He can be such an idiot some time, but then in some episodes we see his love for Arthur and Morgana. Now Morgana is different story. Since I have read/heard some of the legends, I kinda knew where she was headed. Gwen is a great role model, she is sweet, caring, and wants to make a difference in the world.

Now I normally don’t care for books/movies with magic in them, but I have read a few of the books about Merlin and Arthur, so I knew what to expect. This use of magic is a little different. It shows the fight for good /evil. Merlin only uses his magic to save people, mostly Arthur. He also is not showy about it. He doesn’t take the credit he deserves, but stays in the shadows.

Content – Now I can only say what was in season 1&2, but overall not too bad. Only occasional mild language. Some episodes don’t have any. Any violence is mostly cheesy fight scenes with no wounds shown. There are some tense moments where characters are in peril/dying. The ladies sometimes where some low dresses. Several characters are put under a spell that makes them fall in love. A couple characters kiss and talk about falling in love. I think this is another show that will appeal more to teens on up.

#5 1917

Genre – War, Historical, based on true events

Rating – R – Strong language and violence

Synopsis –

Lance Corporal William Schofield and Lieutenant Blake embark on a dangerous mission. From reconnaissance the ally army believes that the Germans have retreated. So Schofield and Blake are commanded by a general to take a message to the Second Battalion that the next morning’s attack is called off. Blake is told that his brother is in the Second Battalion so it becomes a personal matter. If they don’t make it in time, the Germans will slaughter the Battalion.

My Thoughts –

For the most part I stay away from R movies, but when I saw the trailer, this one peaked my interest. It had several actors that I had seen in other movies and the story sounded interesting. Now I looked up the Pluggedin review before I watched this. Use your own judgement on whether to watch or not.

Not gonna lie, but it was amazing!! The story was well told, and the director shot this movie in what looks like 1 continuous shot. I think there were a handful to hidden breaks, but if an actor messed up a line, they would have to go back to the beginning of the scene. The characters had such an emotional journey, that you really felt for them. I felt that it had a journey feel to it, that reminded a bit of The Lord of the Rings. One character in particular showed kindness and determination. I enjoyed it so much that I have seen it twice: once in theaters, once with the family.

It takes place at a sad time in history, and it shows us how war can change us. It a story about loss and what wars can take from us. I felt that it depicted war fairly realistically. We see the characters go hungry, march through mud, and talk of what they miss.

Content- There was some strong language, especially at the beginning as one character has quite the foul mouth,(I’m looking at you Moriarty) but after that it becomes more sporadic. Honestly, there isn’t a ton of dialogue, more focused on the journey. Also, surprisingly there isn’t really a battle scene. Yes, we do see some dead bodies or injured soldiers, but the fighting is more one-on-one combat. Several characters are shot at or stabbed. One scene where we see a medical tent full of injured soldiers. I will say that the violence wasn’t gratuitous. Also no sexual content at all.

Side note – If you love soundtracks, 1917, has a great soundtrack!

Lastly,

#6 Lost

Lost - The Complete First Season

Genre – Adventure, Mystery, Survival

Rating – This one is little bit of a mixed bag of marbles, Some episodes are PG while others are TV14.

Synopsis –

This is a hard show to write a synopsis for as it is so complex. I will give my best go at it. πŸ™‚ It starts off with a plane crash on a isolated island. There are roughly 40 survivors who try to set up a camp and figure out a way off the island. We slowly find out who the survivors are, and how they come to this island. The survivors fight a monster, wild animals, and their biggest threat, the Others. Will they ever make it off the island?

My Thoughts –

Just so you know this is a thinking show. There are many complex layers to this. I would really recommend starting at the beginning, as each episode gives you a little bit more info on what’s going on. Also, I would take this in smaller chunks. Characters who you don’t think matter, end up playing an important part later on. There are main characters who die, so if you don’t like shows that kill off characters, skip this one.

So far, I have really enjoyed this one!! We are currently in season 5. So I can not tell you whether I liked the end or not. There are so many interesting elements. The mystery surrounding the island, is slooowlyy explained. If you have seen Stranger Things, take that and multiply it’s slowness. Yet, it also a reason I like it. It makes you want to keep watching just to figure out what happens.

The characters in the show are also really fascinating. First, they all have flaws!! Every character comes to the island with baggage, whether that be an addiction, workaholic, or a crime record. So don’t expect the characters to be sweet. They do grow and change throughout. There was a few characters I hated, Jin, Sawyer, Locke, to name a few, but they do change for the better. There are some characters you cannot but help love them, Charlie, Desmond, Hurley, and Jack.

I will give a heads up that this show does lots and lots of flashbacks/flash forwards. It takes some getting used to, but overall it helps develop the characters. I would say that I really loved seasons 1&2. Season 4 was also really interesting.

Content – So, to start, the first 2 episodes could definitely be considered scary/gory. So if you can get past that, you start to get some answers and the violence goes way down. People get shot, stabbed, and die. After the first couple episodes, not much blood shown, except for scraps and cuts. Two women go into labor, nothing shown. There is some language, but again varies from episode to episode. Sawyer is the biggest culprit, but mostly mild language. Two cases of infidelity. In one case the truth does come out, and the couple becomes better afterwards. The other case ends in divorce. In season 1 &2 we see ladies in bikinis/tank tops a couple times. There are several couples throughout the show. So there are several kisses. There were a couple scenes we skipped through, mostly dealing with Sawyer.

These are a couple shows that I have been watching during quarantine. What have you been watching? Have you seen any of these shows? If so, what are some of your favorite characters?

Review for Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Christian fiction, Middle-grade, fantasy

Series – 2nd book in the Chronicles of Narnia

Rating – PG for mild peril

Synopsis –

This book picks up 1 year after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Pevensie children are preparing to leave for their various schools. When suddenly, they are pulled back into Narnia. They find it a much wilder place since they last left. They find out that the rightful king (Prince Caspian) is on the run from his uncle Miraz who is trying to kill him. Caspian is assembling an army of old Narnians at the stone table. Will the Pevensie children be able to aide Caspian in taking back his throne?

My thoughts –

It has been a long time since I actually read the Chronicles of Narnia. Last spring I reread the Lord of the Rings, so I figured now that I have some extra time, why not reread Narnia. I started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and was surprised to find that the movie (which I have seen like a billion times) stayed pretty close to the book. So this week I picked up Prince Caspian. I had forgotten a lot of the little pieces in this one.

It was wonderful to get back into the stories that I loved as a child. Not gonna lie, but Prince Caspian felt soo much shorter then what I had remembered. There were several characters that I was drawn to: Edmund, Doctor Cornelius, and Reepicheep. I have always loved Reepicheep. So no surprise there. πŸ˜‰ I was surprised to see how much Edmund had grown since the last book. Susan got a little on my nerves, and I could see the start of her disbelief in Narnia.

The plot moves along at a good clip, but I didn’t realize how long it took the Pevensies to get to Caspian. They didn’t meet him until like 3/4s of the way through the book. There is not a lot of action per say, but Lewis incorporates word building masterfully as to build his world, but also to keep things moving. Although, this is not my favorite book in the series, it has many good themes. I would probably say that The Silver Chair is my favorite, especially with all the character development that occurs.

One theme I picked up on was faith. Although the word is never used, you could tell Lewis was weaving the concept throughout the whole book. A couple examples is the old Narnian’s belief/nonbelief in the high kings/queens. Or Lucy’s ability to see Aslan while the older children cannot. Later on Aslan performs a few miracles similar to a few miracles that Jesus performed. Anyhow for some reason I always thought The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as having the most Biblical themes, but Lewis incorporated it in all of his books.

Language – One use of mild language.

Innuendo – None

Violence –

Lewis keeps these books pretty clean. There are a couple sword fights. A few characters get cuts or draw blood. There is a scene where a werewolf and a hag attack a few characters. Several characters die, not in detail. There is a battle where characters fight one another.

Conclusion –

Its fun to go back and reread book. I always pick up things that I had missed when I read it as a kid. The Chronicles of Narnia is a wonderful series that I cannot recommend enough. It is definitely a classic that deserves to be read, especially if you are a Christian. Glad I took the time to reread Prince Caspian!!

Have you read this series? If so, what is your favorite book in the series? Is it Prince Caspian?

Review for Wildwood

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Genre – Middle-grade fiction, Fantasy

Series – 1st in the Wildwood Chronicles

Rating – PG for mild peril

Synopsis –

Prue loves her baby brother, Mac, and she will do anything to keep him safe. One day while visiting a park, crows swoop in and steal Mac right out of Prue’s hands. She decides to follow the crows into the Impassable Wilderness to look for him. Prue’s classmate, Curtis, follows her into the woods. As they traverse the forest, they meet many creatures along the way who inform them of the perilous political situation that the South woods are in. As the evil Dowager Governess amasses an army, will Prue be able to save her brother before it is too late?

My Thoughts

This book had been on my TBR list for quit some time, and I am just now getting around to it. I came into it knowing nothing about it except that it was reminiscent of Narnia.

It started out with so much potential with a likeable heroine trying to save her brother from an evil queen. I thought Prue was a relatable character. She did what was right in the face of danger. I also liked Curtis, the quiet friend who sort of tags along for the ride. I would say Curtis had better developmental arc as he had some hard lessons to learn.

It felt like the author was trying to tell 2 stories in 1 book. The first half the book explains the political issues that the Wildwood is experiencing. We see the what goes on in the South wood while Curtis’s adventure shows us what the queen is truly like. Then the story shifts gears and we meet two more different groups of people: the Mystics and the Bandits. The book is long for a middle-grade novel. It clocks in at 544 pages. I feel like the author could have cut the book in half and told the first half just by itself, maybe go a bit more into what the South Wood is like.

I cruised through the first chunk of the book, but then about 30% in I hit a snag and slowed down. Personally, I had to force myself to sit down and finish it. Normally I love these two genres so I don’t know if I’d enjoy having an actual copy to read or maybe this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

One quibble I do have to mention is about the Mystics. They are a very New-age type of group who mediate and speak to the trees. A few of their poses sound similar to yoga. A character offers some advice to another character explaining that we have no control over what happens to us. Something about this just sounded off to me. Several characters mention there being no god. I come from a Christian worldview so I struggled with some of the themes that the author put in there.

Language – Fairly clean, I think only 2 or 3 uses of mild language.

Innuendo – Again, not much there. A character gives another character a kiss on the cheek before a battle.

Violence – The Bandits and the Dowager Governess are at war. So there are several skirmishes mentioned. A couple mentions of dead bodies. A character makes a choice and is taken prisoner. He is put into a suspended cage. A couple times where character shoot at other people/animals. A bird is shot through the chest and dies. During one battle a character is shoot in the shoulder and it mentions his wound bleeding. Another character is shot in the chest and falls down (doesn’t die). Most of this was not very detailed.

Conclusion –

An interesting read that at times did remind me of Narnia. I did like the characters as they all had flaws and issues they were working through. The author did a decent job creating a believable fantasy world, but there were a few issues that I had with it. Glad that I finished it! Now I can move on to something different.

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? How’s your April going?

Anna contemporary